I guess I wasn’t feelin’ that good.

So, where to start?

Hello!

It’s been a while, no? Six months, to be exact…

Well, here’s the explanation:

Around the time of the last post on this blog, I lost my will to write. It didn’t seem to matter what I did to motivate myself, I could not put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case were). I did my freelance writing; I did all my necessary work, but writing for pleasure was just out of the question. I was preoccupied with negativity in other parts of my life meaning that I pushed the more pleasurable things aside to deal with the problems at hand. I like to think that I dealt with the issues with a modicum of grace and tact and that while it was detrimental to my blogging efforts, I did make the right choice for me.

It’s not easy having to put aside the things you enjoy, but sometimes it has to be done. I hope to get back into a weekly post schedule soon and to share my musings with all those that are willing to listen.

Thank you,

AI

Emotional setbaks

They happen.

We all have our triggers. I could spend hours telling you about each and every one of them if you had the time (or I was in need of some useful information you were unwilling to give up… sometimes psychological warfare IS warranted, no?).

Sometimes these setbacks sneak up on you. Honestly, the running gag in my family home was that the wind must have changed direction due to my wild, hormonal mood swings as a teenager (Mom, Dad, Darren; have I mentioned I’m REALLY sorry).

Regardless, they do happen and since they are an inevitability, we can actually define ourselves not by our triggers, but by how we deal with the situation(s) at hand.

Without going into too many specifics, I will say I had a bit of a setback today. I was already in a less-than-stellar mood due to bad weather cancelling plans, worrying about a good friend who had just lost a loved one, fretting over upcoming social commitments, stressing over job woes, dealing with some vicious writer’s block and any other dozen things (oh, and for the record, the wind was from the southwest today…). I was completely foul, and when paired with a sudden drop in blood sugar *NOTE – it is important to eat at regular intervals to avoid any potential homicidal rages… or maybe that’s me…* I became a crying, cranky mess.

Now, any follower of this blog knows that when I’m upset, my first instinct is to reach for the chips, and that’s the easiest way to *not* deal with the issues at hand, but thanks to my darling fiance (bless his soul for putting up with me), I was able to vent my spleen while eating a few crackers … literally a few. I was able to avoid overeating by talking about my frustrations. It’s not easy, and believe me, I wanted to eat the entire house clean, but being honest with myself about what was bothering me helped me put things into perspective.

Just because I have stopped overeating does not mean that I have stopped loving food; on the contrary, I think I enjoy and appreciate the food I eat even more now that I have curbed my previous vacuum effect. I love to cook and moreover I find it very stress relieving. Tonight I made homemade whole wheat pasta laced with rosemary and black pepper tossed in an also homemade roasted garlic, shallot and lemon-butter sauce. The dinner was extremely healthy and enjoyable – more so due to the effort put into its preparation (for those that haven’t done it, making pasta is extremely, EXTREMELY worthwhile but it can be a little time consuming and labour intensive). I also got to work alongside Matt to create this deliciousness which is always fun. Matt loves working in the kitchen and loves trying new things (when we started dating, he ate almost everything out of a box – five-and-a-half years later, he’s a very proficient cook who is always trying to learn more) … I still know more about cooking, though is is catching up fast, and between teaching each other new techniques and bossing each other around (lovingly of course), we get to take pride in our completely home cooked meals.

My mini crisis is over because I have found ways to deal with it, then was able to share a great meal with someone I cared about WITHOUT going overboard. I hope this is inspiration the next time you go for the Ben and Jerry’s because you’ve hit your own bump in the road.

AI

 

New experiment: the Fitbit

In my ongoing journey to get healthy, I am always willing to try any new gizmo, gadget or apparatus (within my price range) that comes on the market. (I won’t lie, part of this is because I truly, purely love gadgets). The newest little gizmo that caught my attention was the Fitbit. To oversimplify, the Fitbit is a little doodad that you wear ALL THE TIME and paired with your smartphone/ computer, you are able to monitor your calorie intake, calorie burn, steps (it’s a pedometer) and even your sleep habits. It acts as a one-stop shop for a fitness enthusiast.

I got the Fitbit Flex. Flex is worn like a bracelet with the “bit” tucked inside. It’s one of the more prominent Fitbit trackers size-wise as you have to wear it on your wrist, but because you see it all the time, it constantly reminds you why you bought the thing in the first place. I almost look at is as the <<expensive>> rubber band around your wrist.

Here is a list of pros and cons that I have devised over the past week of wearing it (I got the Flex on December 26, started using it on December 28).

Pros

  • constantly tracks your calorie burn and is not totally reliant on your input like other websites (like livestrong or myfitnesspal).
  • the pedometer is attached to you and not your clothing, making it much harder to lose.
  • the website integrates the software well and is easy to navigate.
  • the sleep tracking can be very helpful in making sure you’re not only getting the right amount of sleep, but enough QUALITY sleep.
  • With it being attached to your arm, it is a constant reminder that you are on a fitness journey. This is especially helpful at the beginning when you are more likely to lack the built-up will power.
  • it allows you to keep track of your steps using indicator lights and it congratulates you by buzzing when you reach your (step) goal.
  • It is very fun to challenge yourself.
  • It’s fairly unobtrusive.

Cons

  • Initial cost (flex is about $100 CAD).
  • If using with a smartphone, you need a very new, high-powered smartphone, as many are not yet compatible with the Fitbit software.
  • The site suggests that you upgrade to premium, asking for more money.
  • The food list is not yet fully developed, thus it can be hard to find some of your frequent foods and a little time-consuming to add the foods to the database manually.
  • The wristband, while not ugly, is not exactly fashion forward, which can cause some issues if you still want to keep track of things while you’re out on the town, dressed up.

My verdict so far is that if you are willing to use the Fitbit system to its entirety, it could be a good investment for you. I am not sure about premium as I have not made that jump (and doubt I will), but that is something that might be worth exploring for some people. I know that when I was a premium (gold) member with Livestrong.com there were many features that were not part of the basic program that I used often – as I said, that’s up to the individual. I haven’t done enough research into the premium membership to give an honest opinion past the fact that I don’t want to pay for it.

There you have it – my review for the Fitbit. I am back on the winning side of losing, and I hope that this little device helps me keep my momentum. I will update on how the use of this device is going at or around the one-month mark.

Happy New Year!

AI

Jennifer Lawrence is a great example for young women.

So, I have been trying to deal with the idea of mental health as a part of overall health. If you feel good, you look good (and by a strange coincidence, that is also the title of the blog you are reading). It can be hard, though, to have decent self esteem when you are told that how you have to act to be considered ”acceptable” is totally counterintuitive to who you are as a person.

Enter Jennifer Lawrence.

tumblr_mx0wonTy5c1rp4duqo3_250

For those that don’t know of this awesome young actress, she is best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in The Hunger Games. Amazing talent aside, this young woman is also more true to herself than almost any other young actress in Hollywood today. The only other woman who really springs to mind in regards to being this true to herself is probably the late actress Tallulah Bankhead (I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water: I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone. – from brainyquote.com), but she hasn’t been around to give us these bits of wisdom since the late ’60s, so Ms. Lawrence has been picking up the ball!

I really admire Lawrence as an actress (I can’t act my way out of a bowl of soup), but more so, I admire that she has stayed her extremely quirky self through this endeavour. I mean, how many people can get away with making comments like this:

“It’s so scary. And then I end up getting so nervous that I get like [I am] now. I get really hyper. [Squeals.] So then I go in interviews and I’m like, ‘I’m like a chihuahua! I’m shaking and peeing!’ And then afterwards, I’m like, ‘I just talked about peeing on the red carpet.’” – to Letterman about how she prepares for the red carpet

Or this:

“I was having chest pains. Photoshop made it glamorous.” – telling Access Hollywood about putting her hand over her chest during a photo shoot

Or this:

“I picked up an issue of Cosmopolitan the other day that had tips for job interviews, because I was like, ‘I need to get better at interviews.’ The article was basically about how to get someone not to hate you in 20 minutes. Every single thing they told you not to do, I was like, ‘I do that every day.’” – to Interview about what she thinks of Cosmo advice columns

and STILL be so beloved? Her, that’s who! She is so honest about who and what she is, and, more to the point, unashamed of who she is that she has become an icon of what young teens should aspire to; being yourself.

Actresses aren’t always the best people to try and emulate, but Lawrence’s personality and honesty about who she is makes her someone to look up to.

tumblr_mx0wonTy5c1rp4duqo5_250What I’m getting at is this; be yourself, and if you have to admire an actress, admire one that is honest with the world.

We could all learn something from Ms. Lawrence.

AI

WANT MORE JENNIFER LAWRENCE?

http://thoughtcatalog.com/nico-lang/2013/08/61-hilariously-honest-jennifer-lawrence-quotes-that-will-make-your-day/

Photoshop: the lie

Halloween 2013. Seriously, who would want to change this awesome style!? In this costume (1930s reporter) I felt confident, like I looked good and I had fun. On top of that, because it was a unique look, people were stopping me and asking for my picture! No hiding here!

Halloween 2013. Seriously, who would want to change this awesome style!? In this costume (1930s reporter) I felt confident, like I looked good and I had fun. On top of that, because it was a unique look, people were stopping me and asking for my picture! No hiding here!

I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem/ I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone. – Savage Garden, Affirmation

I have avoided beauty magazines for a long time, probably since I was about 15 years old. I did this for two reasons:

1. I was too busy and had too little income to spend my money on magazines.

2. I felt like the images in those magazines were unattainable and generally fake, so I chose not to subject myself to them.

I’m still far too busy and have too little income to spend on things like beauty magazines. I’m the kind of person that would rather spend on things like musical instruments or a good book; something I’m not likely to discard after one use.

More and more, I am congratulating my 15-year-old self for making the decision to avoid those magazines. with the advent of the internet, everyone can look into the process of creating these images and thanks to YouTube, we can see the full process compressed into a five-to-ten minute infobyte.

Photoshop: The Perfect Lie

With Photoshop, it becomes easy (for the professionals) to trim five, ten, twenty or even fifty pounds off your frame. They can perfect your skin, remove any and all sun damage, even change your skin tone.

Right now, fit is the new skinny. Everyone (women and men) wants a tight butt, washboard abs, no underarm flub, the infamous between-the-thighs gap, shapely calves, toned shoulders, no love handles… and this is the VERY short list. Everywhere you are bombarded by posts/ articles on how to get perfect ___________. Well, unless you are willing to commit to these health overhauls for the next fifty years without fail, you won’t come close. It’s really a no pain, no gain situation; but in all seriousness, that’s not even enough. If you put in the time to become that fit god/goddess, that’s great, but you’re supposed to be fit and without any discernible flaws. Crow’s feet? Laugh lines? Botox ‘em out. A little jowly? facelift. Less than prominent jawline? Chin implant. Boob job. Rhinoplasty. Permanent makeup tattoos. Liposuction. Tummy tucks. Butt lifts. Calf implants! If you have something you don’t like, you can change it for a price! I have even had my freckles (which I adore) referred to as flaws!

I was in a Sephora about two or three years back and an associate tried to sell me a foundation product on the point that it would “cover up all those freckles.” I walked out. I have always loved my freckles, and other than about one week every summer where they decide that they want to make my lips look huge (I have a ring of freckles that become very prominent around my lips at the beginning of summer) I never want to make them hide. I have actually forgone putting on foundation when my skin is clear and I really want them to shine, so to have someone insinuate that I should hide my freckles (my damn cute freckles) really irritated me… no… it really pissed me off.

I am not a porcelain doll, and neither is anyone else. About a week ago I flippantly referred to someone as “Friday night Barbie” because of the lengths she had gone to so she would look flawless (and THAT went out the window about an hour into the evening when her face started to melt). Granted, her makeup was done well, but it was obviously put on thickly and when it started to slide down her face, she lost a lot of allure.

I believe people have the right to look how they choose, but I also believe that people are shown such unattainable versions of beauty that we don’t even know how we want to look, just how we are supposed to look according to the magazines. I think it’s important that everyone take a look at what really goes into the cover page of their favourite magazine; once you know, it might be easier to set more realistic goals.

AI

PS- just to show I don’t hate Photoshop, check out my awesome cousin Shawn St. Jean (shawnstjean.com) who is an amazing graphic designer, photographer and all around nice guy! He used a picture of mine that he edited in is posted under Digital Design → Print Graphics.

Sometimes you need a kick in the ass.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am a food addict. I love food. It is a constant temptation for me; a temptation that I have been failing to resist recently. I hate to admit it, but my weak will has lead to some backsliding weight and mentality-wise, but I’m hoping I just found a way to kick my butt into high gear.

I was sitting chatting with my partner Matt earlier this evening after laying our little hamster Annie to rest (sad for us). I was very honest with him – and myself – about how I felt regarding my backslide, life and things in general. One of the things that really bothers me is that I had set some very definite goals for myself (career-wise) and it does not look like I am going to meet those goals by the deadline I set. This really got me down and also made me anxious about the future which inevitably leads to food in my case. While unfortunate, it is not the end of the world and I know that things will get better. With the recent layoffs at BlackBerry, the market is flooded with a lot of highly experienced individuals who are either going back to freelancing or applying to the positions I am. Also, if you’re not in retail or food and beverage, Christmas is not a prime hiring time. I have to be honest and not get down on myself. I also have to be thankful that I am employed in two different places and also run a freelancing business on the side that is gaining more outside interest every day.

Part of why I haven`t been eating well is sheer laziness. Last week I worked over 50 hours. This week is a quiet week and I will more than likely still cap out above 40. I am tired but I am unwilling to prepare when I know I have busy times ahead of me. Working in service means that I am heading into the busiest time of the year. Everyone and their uncle is having a Christmas party and many of them are being catered. That means long hours and little time to worry about eating healthy. It’s a lot easier to make a pizza pop than it is to cook a healthier meal and to be honest, no one wants to eat a salad after working 11 hours straight. This is where preparation comes in; making the meals ahead of time leaves no excuse.

I know this has been a bit rambling, but there is a point to all of it: sometimes, life hands you lemons. Sometimes, it leaves a flaming bag of poop on your doorstep. Things could always be worse. I was (re)reading part of Skinny Bitch today, and while I don’t agree with everything in that book, I do believe that one of their credos stands true; you can’t get healthy by whining about it. I won’t promise that I’m done whining, but being honest with myself has helped me move past it.

If my honesty here can help someone else get the kick in the ass they need, so be it. For now, I’m going to go check on the lentils I have stewing on the stove.

AI

PS- The lentils were tasty! The quinoa I made after was also good, but a touch bland… I can fix it!

Rob Ford’s health and wellness

Keeping with the health and wellness concept inherent in this blog, Rob Ford’s admissions over the last week have made me sick, yet hopeful.

My heart goes out to all Torontonians at this time.

First, I would like to address this from a journalistic perspective and say that Ford has yelled and screamed about his privacy over the past three years, but being mayor of Canada’s largest city (not to mention being controversial from the get-go) means that, right or not, he is not going to have the same privacy as others and any of his actions will come under greater scrutiny. I agree with Ford’s statement that he should be left alone in/at his home but I feel that the press has been (mostly) in line regarding how this fiasco has been handled.

Also, as a bridge between the media and health and wellness, I have heard the parallel drawn between Mr. Ford and another high-times politician, Justin Trudeau. I will preface this with the fact that I am not a Ford supporter, but there are at least three major issues I see with this parallel.

  1. Trudeau was using marijuana, not crack cocaine. We are comparing a drug with zero deaths attributed to it to one that has an accidental death toll of approximately 25-50 people per year in Toronto alone (extrapolated from the statistic of 1-2 deaths per 100,000, see references). In places like Vancouver, the numbers are in the hundreds.
  2. Marijuana is a decriminalized substance. Crack cocaine… not so much.
  3. Trudeau was open and honest with Canada about his choices. Rob Ford lied. There is no way around it, he lied. He says the media didn’t ask the right questions, but no doubt, there was a huge omission regarding the allegations.

Trudeau is a media darling and Ford is probably as far to the opposite end of that spectrum as possible. That  fact does sway how the issue is handled, no doubt. It remains, though, that crack cocaine is an extremely dangerous substance that is both highly addictive due to its extreme, fast highs and can lead to dangerous, erratic behaviours in its users.

Do I personally believe this was the first and last time Ford used the drug? No. Do I believe he is a crack addict? No. Do I believe that he has to get his substance issues under control? Definitely.

At this point I think the greater issue for Ford is his alcohol use. He has been cited as publicly intoxicated on many occasions during his tenure as mayor and claims that his choice to use crack cocaine was probably made during a “drunken stupor.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been drunk… VERY drunk at times, and crack never seemed like a smart idea. New information is surfacing every day about Ford’s drunk and/or erratic behaviour over the past year, and these are only the instances that are happening in public. What’s going on behind closed doors?

Alcoholism can effect every part of a person’s life, from heir physical health (long-term effects of alcoholism include liver disease, issues with cognitive function, it can cause issues with the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system to name a few) to the damaging effects it has psychologically on both the user and the people surrounding the user. I am not stating that Ford is an alcoholic, but I am saying that these actions suggest that there is a problem that needs to be handled by Mr. Ford and his family. Binge drinking is a problem in itself, especially when a public figure is acting inappropriately. It reflects poorly on the individual and the people he is supposed to represent.

In my (completely biased) opinion, Ford should step aside, even temporarily, and take care of himself and his family. This statement goes beyond politics; this man needs to sort himself out and take care of himself and his kin. While I disagree with his choices, I truly think the surfacing of this video could be good for Ford in the long run. It has forced him to make some tough admissions to the public (and possibly himself). Admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery, they say, and by owning his past actions, he can work to keep them from happening in the future.

As a politician, I do not agree with Ford’s policies, but as a human being, I wish Mr. Ford the best with his future. It’s never easy to admit that you have made an error; imagine having to admit it to 2.6 million constituents, another 32+ million Canadians and many international news venues… It can’t be fun.

AI

REFERENCES

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/22/justin-trudeau-marijuana-mp_n_3792208.html - Trudeau marijuana use

http://www.teenchallenge.ca/get-help/educational-resources/drug-abuse-facts - stats on deaths

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/05/doug-ford-calls-on-police-chief-to-step-down-accuses-him-on-conspiracy-against-torontos-mayor/ - re: admission of excessive alcohol use.

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2013/11/05/rob_ford_yes_i_have_smoked_crack_cocaine.html - drunken stupor statement

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rob-ford-says-new-video-shows-him-extremely-inebriated-1.2418421?cmp=fbtl - issues with drunkenness

Why you shouldn’t do something for nothing.

Would you ask an engineer to build a bridge for free, just so that he/ she could get “exposure?”

I hear you scoff, but people are asked to use their skills every day with no remuneration, just the promise of exposure or public recognition. It seems to be the huge arts/ science divide that brings this to light, too. Artists are expected to struggle, and because of that, people ask them to provide their services with no compensation offered other than the opportunity that someone, somewhere might see their work and they will be “discovered.”

A bigger problem yet is that these opportunities (if you can call them that) get snatched up almost as quickly as paying gigs. Young artists (writers and journalists included) are so desperate to get their name out there that they are willing to take any and all opportunities that come along, paid or not. I see this as a huge issue. While people are willing to give something for nothing, we all lose out on paid opportunities. Who will pay for something when they don’t have to?

The only way to make this exploitation of writers (and all other artists) change is for the majority to stop taking these unpaid “opportunities.” If the free talent pool dries up, many will be forced to pay and the problem will be, if not fixed, much better. Unfortunately, j-school teaches new writers  (not incorrectly) that they are going to have to give themselves, their creative selves, away for nothing to even have a chance at gaining employment in their field.

I see this as an unforgiveable situation in the arts world but also as one that isn’t going to change. As long as young journalists are told they have to give themselves away and greedy people are willing to exploit young writers the cycle will continue.

There are some situations where pro bono is not the worst thing in the world (small start-ups and certain independent/non profit works) but when larger groups, especially larger corporations get into the mix of taking something for nothing it really bothers me.

I know this isn’t my normal post, but I think it needed to be said. As a young writer, this is something that I have dealt with since graduating.

AI

Someone just turned 27 (not me)

Hello all,

Today is Matt’s 27th birthday and it has been a day of celebration… well, not really. I wanted it to be a day of celebration, but it was more like a couple vignettes of celebration framed by stress and work. I look forward to Sunday when I can really spoil him.

we may not have everything, but we can sure celebrate what we have, and being born is the best thing to celebrate!

AI

PS- we had a wonderful dinner with Matt’s sisters and a good family friend. It was great! Good beer and good company.

Back to baseline – end of the last day

Ugh

I hate the third day. I feel grouchy, I have a headache and my thoughts border on the murderous at times… but I got through and while in a lot of ways I feel like junk, I feel proud of myself.

I find these reboots and cleanses helpful for two reasons: first I enjoy how I feel the day AFTER the cleanse is completed. I feel energetic, happy and generally good about everything and everyone. I feel happy that I can eat what I want and I feel great that I was tough enough to make it through the three days. Second, being super-strict for a few days reminds me that I am in control of that I eat, not the other way around. I am an emotional eater and more than once in my life I have let that get the better of me. its a good feeling to know that, but sometimes I need, we all need, a kick in the pants.

Anyway, that’s the update. Tomorrow morning I am going to wake up and have a big, beautiful bowl of oatmeal.

AI